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Down and Derby - Sweet 16 (6) - 2012 Kentucky Derby

1. Union Rags 6-1 (Dixie Union-Tempo, by Gone West) Michael Matz – I still think he will be the Kentucky Derby favorite, but his odds got a whole lot better with the loss in the Florida Derby. The good news is he ran a solid race, despite being boxed in and dealing with the track bias of Gulfstream, which should set him up well for the Derby. Was his performance good enough to win on the First Saturday in May? I don't think so, but I believe in leaving something in the tank for the Derby, and that is exactly what Matz did. Even without the air of invicibility, I still consider him the most likely horse to wear the roses, and of course, he is good to go on the graded stakes earnings list.


2. Creative Cause 8-1 (Giant's Causeway-Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer) Mike Harrington – Another that will come in to the Derby off a loss, but like the top one, he ran a strong race in defeat. He rallied on the rail, before racing between horses the entire stretch of the Santa Anita Derby. The fact that he didn't run a straight course once again, this time without blinkers is worrisome, but he has yet to run a race where he did not look like one of the best of his generation. He looks like he is still improving, and should handle the Derby distance. For whatever it's worth he reminds me more of Silver Charm with each race. Earnings wise, he's in. 
 

3. Hansen 8-1 (Tapit-Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat) Michael Maker – The more I look at his races, the more I believe he can become the second horse to win both the BC Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. I liked that Dr. Hansen told me this afternoon that he expects Hansen to be on the lead if the pace is not too hot, but if it is, he will sit behind the leaders. Last year he prepped for Churchill with a win on Polytrack, so the Blue Grass should be as good as place as any to get him ready. Look for him to be awfully tough to beat at Keeneland, sending him back to Louisville in style. He is #1 on the earnings list.
 
 
4. I'll Have Another 10-1 (Flower Alley-Arch's Gal Edith, by Arch) Doug O'Neill – He backed up his big upset in the Robert Lewis with a fantastic performance in the Santa Anita Derby to narrowly defeat Creative Cause. I'm not ready to place him above that rival on Down and Derby, but he proved to me that he has the class to win in 3 1/2 weeks. He is bred to go ten furlongs, and will hit Churchill Downs as one of the most fresh horses in the race, leading me to believe he still may have more room for improvement. That is a scary proposition for the rest of the field. The Santa Anita Derby gave him all the money he needs to qualify for the Derby.
 

5. El Padrino 25-1 (Pulpit-Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway) Todd Pletcher - Yes, I am holding on to the horse that I've liked all along. By trapping Union Rags in for several furlongs, I believe he was taken out of his race. Having said that, he finished up well, as he always does, and was beaten less than three lengths in a race that clearly was not his best. I look for a big turnaround when he gets ten furlongs at Churchill Downs much like Thunder Gulch did many years ago. The big question now is whether he will get into the Derby without another start. At $250,000 his position is very tenuous.
 
 
 
6. Bodemeister 15-1 (Empire Maker-Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat) Bob Baffert – It would not surprise me if in a few months we are calling this one as good as anyone on the list. Lightly raced, but very talented, Bodemeister may need only to repeat his last race, (2nd to Creative Cause in the San Felipe) to be a winner in the Arkansas Derby. Of course, there is every reason to believe that he will keep improving considering he has only three lifetime starts. I like his chances to win at Oaklawn, and that's a good thing because he needs to collect a whole bunch of graded stakes earnings if he wants to make it to the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
 
 
7. Gemologist 8-1 (Tiznow-Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector) Todd Pletcher – He did what I thought he should in the Wood Memorial. He used his tactical speed to get a good trip and then had plenty in reserve to fight off Alpha in the late stages. The trouble is, I don't know if that will be enough to win at Churchill Downs. He is undefeated, well bred, good looking, and has a win over the track, so if you like him, there is nothing to say he will not win. Considering he will be one of the favorites, I am going to try to beat him, as I feel he is just a shade below the top ones, but I realize that he certainly is a threat. The Wood win pushed his earnings to the no worry zone.
  
8Dullahan 20-1 (Even The Score-Ava Mining My Own, by Smart Strike) Dale Romans - I am probably one good rally away from changing my top dark horse from El Padrino to this one. I wasn't a big fan of him as a juvenile, but I recognize there were plenty of good performances there to give hope for this spring. I love the way he rallied strongly in the Palm Beach despite the slow pace. He will now employ the same Keeneland to Churchill path that worked pretty well last fall, and it goes without saying that he is working great. He doesn't need to win the Blue Grass, but finishing full of run will be a great way to head to the Derby. No worries on the graded stakes earnings list.
 
 
9. Take Charge Indy 12-1 (A.P. Indy-Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) Patrick Byrne - High expectations for this good looking, son of a champion were realized when he made all the running in the Florida Derby. It was a great sign showing that he is both maturing and wants to get to the wire first. However, it also was a case of him using a pretty big advantage of having the rail and the lead through moderate fractions on a speed favoring track. There are compelling reasons to go either way with this colt in the Derby. I will probably take a pass, especially if he is bet down a bit with Calvin aboard, but I am certainly in no position to talk anyone off of him either. Earnings wise, he's in.
 
 
 
10. Alpha 15-1 (Bernardini-Munnaya, by Nijinsky II) Kiaran McLaughlin – For all you Alpha fans out there, please realize that it was not easy to rate him this low, but that's how close I think the top 10 are right now. He was checked sharply on the first turn, and then had to maneuver around horses to take dead aim on Gemologist in the Wood Memorial stretch. The favorite was too strong from there, but Alpha ran a fine race. The maneuverability will suit him well, just not sure he can beat the nine I have above him on Derby day. He is already safe in the earnings race.


11. Went the Day Well 25-1 (Proud Citizen -Tiz Maies Day, by Tiznow) Graham Motion - Another horse who seemingly has a big upside. The conditioning he lost in quarantine is well documented, so the potential for further improvement is certainly there. I thought he looked like a million bucks at the Spiral, and obviously he is in good hands. On the downside, I did not see that explosiveness that I like to see from a horse expected to rally to win the Kentucky Derby. He will need to keep improving right up until May, because I don't think he is quite there yet. With $282,000, he is in danger, but my guess is he will make the earnings cut to get into the Derby.
 
 
12. Daddy Nose Best 25-1 (Scat Daddy-Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch) Steve Amussen - Will he be one of my Derby dark horses this year? I'm seriously considering it, especially if he looks good to me Derby week. I like his breeding, and certainly liked the determination he displayed in winning two smaller derbies in the West. Class is still a question mark, but I think he did handle some pretty good horses already. No worries on the graded stakes earnings list.
 

13. Secret Circle 15-1 (Eddington-Ragtime Hope, by Dixieland Band) Bob Baffert – And so the beat goes on ... he is one of the top sophomores in the land up to 1 1/16 miles. I feel safe in saying that, as he time and time again has proven his class by finding another gear in the stretch of many of his races. Can he go 1 1/8 miles? We will find out on Saturday when he should go off favored in the Arkansas Derby. I like the other Baffert (Bodemeister) better, but I would not be a bit surprised to see him in the winner's circle again. Now ten furlongs in the Derby I think will be another story. Earnings wise, he's in.

  
14. Prospective 30-1 (Malibu Moon-Spirited Away, by Awesome Again) Mark Casse – You already know I like the top two of Hansen and Dullahan in the Blue Grass, but this one also has a lot going for him. He showed courage while winning the Tampa Bay Derby, is bred to handle added distances, and seems to be equally adept on dirt or synthetic distances. Back on a synthetic at Keeneland, Prospective will need to prove he belongs with top class individuals. If he answers that question successfully on Saturday, he will go to Louisville as a real contender. He is already safe in the earnings race.
 

15. Optimizer 30-1 (English Channel-Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) D. Wayne Lukas – It's a little hard to figure this one out. I really thought he had a big future on turf, and he still may have, but his last effort on the dirt in the Rebel was the just the kind of performance I look for this time of year. If he can prove that the last was no fluke with another big performance, this time in the Arkansas Derby, I will give him a long look in Kentucky. The distance should not be a problem, but with under $200,000 currently in graded stakes earnings, he will need a top-3 finish to qualify for the big dance.
 
 
16. Mark Valeski 25-1 (Proud Citizen-Pocho's Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect) Larry Jones – Mark Valeski is not yet a stakes winner, but on the other hand has done nothing wrong in his career either. His swift ascent from an allowance sprint to graded stakes around two turns was impressive and netted him a pair of close call seconds in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, this despite throwing a shoe in his last one. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is my feeling that 1 1/4 miles will prove farther than his best distance. He is also on the earnings bubble with $260,000 in the graded stakes bank.
    
 

 

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Older Comments about Down and Derby - Sweet 16 (6) - 2012 Kentucky Derby...

Union Rags still gets my vote. Hansen is looking better and better to me as is Optimizer, Daddy Nose Best and Bodmeister. I'd have Gemologist higher on the list personally. I liked how easily he accelerated to hold off Alpha in the Wood. A lot is going to depend on how good the colts look on Derby day to me this year.
I think the one in front at the wire will win and be one of the favorites in the Preakness, if he runs, and beyond that what a great crapshoot!!!
I'd like to see Hansen roll the field at Keeneland before seriously considering him for the KD.
I agree 100% francis.
Sorry, my AT&T tablet is garbage. What I was trying to say was that, in order for CC to have any chance in the Derby, Harrington needs to, either, take the stick away from Rosario or get another jockey.
CC's "undisciplined " behavior in the stretch is because, even though he veers sharply when he's hit with the whip, the pinhead on his back doesn't seem capable of restraining himself from using the stick. In order for CC to have any chance in the Derby, Harrington, eiither, needs to
I have the favorite at 6-1 right now.
Could we be looking at 4-1 or 9/2 as favorite in the Derby?
I like Hansen to win because he is fast enough to be on or close to the lead so will avoid traffic problems like Union Rags had in his last race
With my futures bets at the Wynn made over a month ago (Union Rags 10/1 & Creative Cause 25/1), I am pleased to see that these two still top your list. I do still think that Union Rags is the horse to beat while CC has unlimited potential. I just think a horse that isgoing to win the Derby can't be as undisciplined as CC seems to be in the stretch run. I am hoping for a Union Rags / Creative Cause photo finish!
I re
You have the best horse at #1. All that is needed is a clean trip .Good luck with that in a 20 horse field.
My top Derby Horses are 1) Union Rags, 2) Take Charge Indy, 3) Secret Circle, 4) Gemologist, 5) Alpha, 6) Creative Cause, 7) Hansen, 8) Daddy Nose Best...
Great recap on an interesting group of contenders this year. If O'Brien were to send one of his over this deep field would be even more intriguing. To see the top three finishers from the BC Juvenile still at the top of the list in April makes this an unusual year. · 2 seconds ago
I don't know....I'm sold on Alpha. I doubt the favorite will win though, it will be close, because favorites in the derby seldom win
I'm still on U-rags and Hansen
this is a nice recap of some very interesting prospects for the derby.. interesting there is 3 or 4 more as well that are interesting at this point..
http://wire2wireracing.blogspot.com/ checkout my blog, just started it and need advice.
After this Saturday the Derby picture should be much clearer. I have at least 6 horses running this weekend from my RttR stable.

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